There are two things that make the current system for Super Rugby distinctly unfair: the seeding of the conference winners for home finals and the lopsided fixture that grants some teams an easier season than others.
The effects of the first problem are obvious to see (Highlanders with 52 points playing an away final against the Brumbies with 43 points). What interested me was finding the effect of the different draws, so I used some basic statistics to find out.
To start with I found how many competition points each team gave away per game this season (the most difficult team to get log points from was the Highlanders at 1.2 points a game and the easiest the Kings who would gift on average 4.4 points a game). I used this information to find how many log points each team should have earned for the season if they played exactly to the average.
What this shows is how many log points you would expect each of these teams to get, based just on their draws. It reveals the Stormers basically had a 12-point head start on the Kings before the season began.
I used this information to adjust the final competition ladder by subtracting points from the teams that had an easier draw than average and adding points for the teams that had a more difficult draw (the average log points achieved this year was 35.4).
|Original Points||Adjusted Points|
So why this does change the table somewhat, when using the current playoff system the quarter-finals remain the same? One thing it shows is the Stormers had a very easy draw and this makes their quarter-final thumping by the Chiefs less surprising.
It also makes the top tier of teams (the four New Zealand teams and the Lions) very clear, with a large gap developing between them and the rest of the competitions. It also shows what a disappointing season the Bulls and Cheetahs had in the very easy Africa 1 conference.